If you have been to see the likes of Sylosis, Xerath or Malefice in the last couple of years then you may already be familiar with the prog-tinged death mob Chapters. They have steadily been laying the foundations on the undercard and are priming themselves to step up to the previously mentioned bands level. The following that the Londoners have amassed since their formation in 2009 has made them cult heroes before an album has even been released.
Finally the time has come for Chapters to show their hand. 'Imperial Skies' is an impressive debut in a world where first impressions are very important and can sometimes (unfairly) make or break a fledgling bands career. Although the band may have a strong influence from progressive music, the songs certainly don't lack any punching power and opener 'I Will Reign Forever' is a monster. It jumps between raw, blistering pace and a brutal mid-tempo chug with zero mercy shown over seven and a half crushing minutes. The whole album is beautiful musically and extremely well written, and whilst it is a very long way from simplistic, the songs are more accessible than someone like Necrophagist or The Faceless.
The seven songs that make up 'Imperial Skies' are split by the soothing, acoustic 'Arising' which shows that delicacy and skull-smashing fury can go hand in hand. Following on immediately is the equally mellow 'The Ecliptic Circle' which features the stunning vocal finesse of Sian Sanderson. It's not long before the title track wades in throwing punches again. One thing that the album doesn't lack is cohesion, all the chapters of the story slot together nicely and the album is undoubtedly best enjoyed in a single sitting.
The climactic finish in 'Chapters' is another near eight minute epic and vocalist/bassist Joe Nally vents his rage over it brilliantly. Sitting on the border of a gnarly, grating scream and a punky shout, his vocals are well applied to the chest-beating moments whilst the instruments do the talking when the mood is calmed. The mercurial Sylosis frontman Josh Middleton is drafted in on the finale and his throaty bellows bleed into the conclusion effortlessly. There are moments of genius all over 'Imperial Skies', from the galloping riffing over the self-titled track to the solid drumming throughout, to the graceful acoustic flourishes. If you have missed Chapters up until now, then I suggest you rectify that schoolboy error and indulge in yet another band that Britain can be proud of.